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I Forge Iron

First attemps at smithing.

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Tried smithing for the first time a couple of weeks ago, using a tiny homemade forge (if you could call it that).

As yet I dont have any propper smithing tools, and my 'forge' can only heat about an inch at a time. (the spike hook, with the motice and tennon joint probably took over two hours to acheive)

Would be happy to recieve any comments or suggestions, and ideas for what to try next?

Hopefully there is picture here, still getting used to the forum.


Btw, all the hooks and the buckle were made from rebar, so had to be drawn out and sqaured off first to get rid of the pattern, time consuming.

Edited by steve sells
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good job! My "first trys" didn't look that good.
Suggestion: Could just be the picture but it looks like you're using some hefty stock. If so back off a little on the size of your steel. 3/8ths" and 1/4" is my recomendation! I've been forging for 2+ years and I rarely use anything over 3/8ths. It's a lot easier to work with in my opinion! Of course if any size steel is not readly avaliable than keep using what you're using now! You obveously now how to work with those sizes well! Keep it up!

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Nice work Bob and a great start. I would second FieryFurnaces suggestion of smaller stock. I have only been doing this for about 6 months and right off the bat I wanted to start doing all of these different things with all different size stock. One day I took a step back and using 1/4" round made about 60 s hooks one after the other. I think I learned more that day about color temp., using the face, using the horn, far side bending, using a hot cut, selective quenching then if I had continued down my path. I think you have some real natural ability that shows in your work and by practicing the fundamentals it really helps when you then come up with that next idea for what you want to make.

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My suggestion is try something you don't think you can do, and expect for it not to be perfect, but the learning curve is vastly accelerated when you push your limits. Maybe a trivet for that special woman in your life, or a wall sconce, simple is still elegant! Good luck and good hammerin!

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It is 3/8 rebar. The buckle was drawn out from a 2'' length to make 3/16 square section, does look bigger in the photos - odd.

Im looking forward to getting my hands on an anvil, Im using a block of mild steel for most of the work, and an old lump hammer head with rounded edges to start the bends.

Thanks for the suggestions so far - maybe a set of identical coat hooks next?

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Check out my web site "poduct list." It has some of the stuff I do pictured. Give ya some ideas on simple projects that exercise and improve the basic skills. Rebar is ok; Ieven have some, but is there a place near you where you can get rods/bars of steel? (junk yard, welding shop, etc.) You wouldn't have to do near as much shaping to get the final product.
Wrought-iron works


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Nice first session Bob!

You have a natural eye for proportion to get such nice scrolls first time. You're going to do very well at this.

While you're looking for a "real" anvil there a lot of things that make fine improvised anvils. If you can find a short 1-2' piece of RR rail it makes a fine anvil. Another is a truck or larger axle buried or stood on end flange up. Virtually any piece of steel heavy enough will make a good anvil. You don't really need a large flat face or horns, a flat section a little larger than the hammer's face is actually plenty. You can straighten pieces on much lighter gauge steel than you need to forge. Horns can be improvised with rods, shafts, pipe and such.

As far as I'm concerned the hardest piece of tooling to do without or make yourself is a post vise. you can't do much hammering on a cast machinist's vise as they're cast iron and can be broken. Virtually everything else can be improvised pretty easily with a little imagination and an eye for potential shapes.

You have the eye, the get to it attitude so all you need is a little practice and perhaps some answers to questions you can't figure out yourself.


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Aha, well thats the one thing I do have!

Its been in the garden for as long as I can remeber as a 'garden feature'. Rusty but perfect working order. I haven't used it yet because I need to make a stand for it - but I'm going to need something to do while my 'mudpie' sets...

It think it is one of the larger sizes, jaws are maybe 5'' across??

Do you think I could support my steel block 'anvil' in the jaws to hammer on?

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  • 1 month later...

Finally got around to taking some photos of the stuff I have done since I built my slightly larger forge (thanks to everyone who helped with this).

I havent got an anvil yet but did manage dig the old vice out of the flowerbed and make a stand for it. I have been supporting a big lump hammer in the jaws as a makeshift anvil - well at least Im not having to chase it around!!

All feedback and comments welcomed - especially any ideas for fixing the scroll work on the brackets - even If I could I wouldnt really want to weld, some form of traditional joint would be good, what do you recommend?


<a href=First_forge_work_.JPG'>

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Nice work!

When I started I was first doing 1/4" and 3/8" stock then went to 1/2" square stock and larger very quickly.

I greatly suggest that you work with larger stock! It will take a while longer to forge out, but as I see it at least forging small stock can trick you into thinking that you have a good hammer swing going.

I knew that I had a nice swing when I could forge an 6" taper in 1/2" stock with one heat, with a proper hammer weight and very rapid strikes you will be able to heat the taper back up to mild yellow just with the energy from the hammer.

Having said that, trying to forge heavier stock without a heavy solid chunk of steel to back it up(anvil) is not very productive.

Caleb Ramsby

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Bob, that stuff looks pretty good to me. What sort of background do you have?

My dad used to do model enginnering as a hobby, so I have a fairly well stocked workshop. My education included art, design, resistant materials. I have been doing various things since I left school, a bit of work and lots of projects.

I have always been interested in traditional skills and crafts, and like to lean about them by having a go and putting into practice things I have read in books and on the internet.

I went on a basic forge techniques day course yesterday - I have never really been on a course to learn something like this, because I usually like to teach myself things - but I am considering blacksmithing as a serious career choice, so thought I better go see what its like working in a propper forge.

answer? Great! :D

Thanks to everyone.
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